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International Last Updated: Aug 7, 2020 - 11:52:47 AM


The "Coalition of the Determined"
By German Foreign Policy, 6/8/20
Aug 6, 2020 - 11:05:24 AM

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For the EU to assert itself in the power competition between the USA and China, foreign policy makers are calling for a "core European" vanguard.

 

German foreign and military policy makers are pushing for an EU global policy offensive and suggest that a small number of member states should lead the way forward as a "coalition of the determined." If the mandatory unanimity rule is maintained in EU foreign policy decisions, the Union will not prevail in the global power competition, according to a recent statement by the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS). Berlin and Paris must initiate a "core European" vanguard, because German foreign policy makers fear losing influence in the conflict between the USA and China. China is a "systemic rival" to be vigorously opposed in some respects, and at the same time, it is economically an "important partner," Michael Roth, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared. The United States, however, "as an economic rival is growing tougher," according to Johann Wadephul, foreign policy maker of the CDU. Wadephul warns of an escalation of transatlantic conflicts and US efforts to take over important high-tech EU companies.

"Political Rival"

China's continuing rise is one of the reasons for the current debate on the EU's strategic orientation. China "is appearing on the global scene," noted Ret. Brig. Gen. Armin Staigis already last spring. Staigis is the former Vice President (2013 - 2015) of the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) and today Chair of its "Association of Friends." In reference to the "New Silk Road," Staigis declared that "with its economic power" China "is pushing onto the European continent, becoming not only a trading partner but also a political rival."[1] Johann Wadephul, Vice Chair of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, in charge of foreign affairs and defense policies, recently stated at an internal event of the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation: "Our economic and technological lead over China and other Asian countries is dwindling."[2] Particularly in view of the rise of the People's Republic of China, Europe must "strengthen its resilience," Michael Roth, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared last weekend. "We urgently need more European action in our dealings with China."[3] The EU must not allow itself to be divided. Initiating a "consistent 'Team Europe policy'" is a "priority of the German EU Council Presidency."

"Economic Partner"

The EU’s relations with China are complicated," according to Roth. The country is not only a "systemic rival," but also an "important partner" that cannot be ignored in "fighting climate change" and "resolving regional conflicts" - the North Korean conflict as a prime example - and particularly in the economic field. "Our economies are interconnected, and cooperating with one another is in our mutual interest."[4] Roth confirms positions such as those advocated by the German industry, which is increasingly dependent on business with China. In view of the People's Republic's growing share in generating the sales and profits of German companies, Dieter Kempf, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) recently noted, "China may be a systemic rival - but it will remain an important partner for the EU and Germany."[5] As Minister of State Roth reiterated last weekend, "decoupling as far as possible from China, as the U.S. has in mind, is not an option for the EU. There will be no escaping China both politically and economically speaking. Cooperation is both a necessity and an opportunity."

"Tough Competitor"

Whereas government politicians in Berlin are mostly pleading for relations with China based on a mixture of cooperation and confrontation, concerning the USA, however, skepticism is increasingly being expressed, primarily from the traditionally transatlantic oriented Christian Union parties. "In a direct China - USA comparison, the image of an egocentric, isolationist, sclerotic (and sick!) hegemon of yesterday (USA)" risks "being contrasted to a solidary, globally operating, dynamic, (and thanks to a better approach: quickly recuperated) global savior of tomorrow (China)," complained CDU foreign policy politician Wadephul.[6] "Our transatlantic partner," the United States, is "economically becoming an ever tougher competitor." Whereas, until now trade conflicts were "mainly conflicts over sales figures and import-export account balances," in "the future, it could involve ownership of strategically important hi-tech enterprises (such as Biotech)." Wadephul was making allusion to the Trump administration's - unsuccessful - bids to buy up Germany's CureVac vaccine producer or Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson telecommunication corporations with their 5G capabilities. The CDU politician warned that transatlantic "conflicts over enterprises and technologies" - along with other "latent, smoldering or even openly disputed transatlantic differences could escalate." This could possibly include the dispute over policy toward Iran,[7] or the conflict over the Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline.[8]

5G Litmus Test

Leading foreign policy politicians in Berlin are pleading for an energetic reinforcement of the EU to be able to assert itself in the global power competition, particularly in the rapidly escalating conflict between the USA and China. "Economically" the Union is "- still - a power," observes Wadephul, but insists that it must urgently be "ascertained" which "key capabilities and capacities should remain within or returned to the EU," to insure acquisition of "the greatest autonomy and independence of the EU's economy and industry." With regards to the EU's neighboring low-wage countries, Wadephul explained that, in some cases, a relocation to "nearby European partner countries (Turkey, Ukraine etc.)" is conceivable.[9] Minister of State Roth is also insisting that the Union should "strive" to "master key technologies and to hold their patents in Europe." To achieve this, one needs "a more strategic industrial policy, large-scale investment in research and development" as well as "a digital single market."[10] In this context, Roth declared that "the 5G issue ... is a litmus test for the objective of greater European sovereignty." In relationship to the 5G-capable Nokia and Ericsson telecommunication companies, the Minister of State affirmed that "European alternatives are available and are world leaders in the field of technology."

Core Europe

Whereas there is relative agreement on the measures to be taken to economically reinforce the EU, the discussion on the reinforcement of the Union's foreign and military policies has become quite controversial. Regarding the EU's current situation, Wadephul says, "In foreign policy, the Union is, at best, a regional power, in security policy, a dwarf." It is "not even capable of assuring Europe's security and stability in its own backyard (Syria, as well as Libya)."[11] Berlin is beginning to see the mandatory unanimity rule in foreign and military political decisions to be an obstacle on the road to expansive power development. Last spring, former BAKS Vice President Staigis suggested that the only remedy would be for "some EU member states ... to move forward and set the course" - for example, like CDU politicians Wolfgang Schäuble and Karl Lamers had outlined under the catch word "core Europe" already back in 1994.[12] Staigis considers that "Germany and France bear the primary responsibility, ... along with any other EU states that are willing to proceed."

Global Policy Capability

BAKS' President, Ekkehard Brose has now reemphasized this demand. "Foreign policy decisions on the basis of European majority rule" will "remain, for the foreseeable future, ... unrealistic," writes Brose in a recent position statement. "A coalition of the determined" is therefore indispensable, "for a European global policy capability." Its core must be made up of "Germany and France."[13] A few member countries leading the way in foreign policy will, however, come with "a price," because it will "strain the EU's cohesiveness," warns the president of BAKS. Therefore, it would be important "to link the strength of such a group of member countries and their will to take action ... to the overall EU framework." This needs imagination. However, more concrete proposals have not yet been made.

 

[1] Armin Staigis: Ernstfall Europa - Jetzt! Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik: Arbeitspapier Sicherheitspolitik Nr. 2/2020.

[2] Johann-David Wadephul: Systemherausforderung: Geopolitik in Zeiten von Corona. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 28.07.2020.

[3], [4] Michael Roth: Die Sicherheit unserer Bürger steht auf dem Spiel. spiegel.de 02.08.2020.

[5] Chinas Außenhandel sackt wegen Corona-Krise weiter ab. dw.com 07.06.2020. See also "China bleibt Partner".

[6] Johann-David Wadephul: Systemherausforderung: Geopolitik in Zeiten von Corona. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 28.07.2020.

[7] See also Vor dem Scheitern.

[8] See also Transatlantische Konflikte (III) and "A Dangerous Precedent".

[9] Johann-David Wadephul: Systemherausforderung: Geopolitik in Zeiten von Corona. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 28.07.2020.

[10] Michael Roth: Die Sicherheit unserer Bürger steht auf dem Spiel. spiegel.de 02.08.2020.

[11] Johann-David Wadephul: Systemherausforderung: Geopolitik in Zeiten von Corona. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 28.07.2020.

[12] Armin Staigis: Ernstfall Europa - Jetzt! Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik: Arbeitspapier Sicherheitspolitik Nr. 2/2020.

[13] Ekkehard Brose: "Koalition der Entschlossenen": Nur so erwirbt Europa Weltpolitik-Fähigkeit. baks.bund.de.


Source:Ocnus.net 2020

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